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Tips on Writing for the ear

Posted by Selwyn Ramp on | July 13, 2016 | No Comments

Unlike the reader, the listener often has no opportunity to reread what has been said if they miss something or need clarification. As such, preparing material that will be read aloud requires a slightly different approach than preparing written material. Below are nine foolproof tips on how to write for the ear, and not for the eye.

  1. Embrace a conversational tone. Remember that storytelling is a dialogue, not a monologue, and that you want to be engaging and natural in your speech.
  2. Keep your sentences short and simple. Avoid compound or complex sentences and abide by the basic subject-verb-object structure.
  3. Use a simple vocabulary. Big words sound impressive, but they can cause your listener to get lost. Remember that you are speaking to a general audience and write your story accordingly. If you need to use complicated words or concepts, consider defining the terms as you read.
  4. Avoid passive voice. Use active verbs and be direct. This will give your statements more impact. Ex. passive: “she was walking toward the house” vs. active: “she walked towards the house.”
  5. Use contractions. Remember that you want the conversation to flow naturally. For a more seamless oral delivery consider using “can’t” instead of “cannot.”
  6. Punctuate for rhythm. Consider the way your story will sound when spoken out loud and use punctuation to mark pauses and place emphasis. Remember to pace yourself and allow time for your audience to absorb what has been said.
  7. Round your numbers. Unless there is a reason for you to use the exact number, simplify your story by rounding figures to the nearest whole.
  8. Use a straightforward, linear narrative. With audio recordings, there is virtue in clarity. Remember that a listener cannot always rewind if they get lost, so make sure that the structure of your story follows a chronological order with a beginning, middle and end.
  9. Read it out loud. When you have finished drafting your story, read it aloud. What sounds good in your head might not sound natural when read out loud. Reading your story aloud will help you identify problems with rhythm and sentence structure.


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